B1 Tent Craft

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Aim: To give young people an introduction to basic tent craft. Taken from the BB Company Section Discoverer Pro Pack, Recreation Outdoor and adventure B1


Activity 1
flipchart or Paper

Activity 2
• Tent
• Poles
• Pegs
• Guys
• Mallets (as required)


Activity 1 - Introduction to Tent Craft

Aim: To give the young people an understanding of the pitching, striking and maintenance of tents.

• Many young people will attend annual or other camps without appreciating the reasons behind much of their planning. Nor may they fully understand how their individual conduct and actions may affect those around Them, both on-site, and in the local community.

• Tell the young people that this topic will help them to prepare for camping, and what is expected of them, by learning about:
— Tents and equipment
— Safety and cleanliness at camp
— Pitching, Striking and Packing of tents
— Tent maintenance

• First Things First
Carry out a series of mind-mapping exercises with the young people. You could use the following statements to get discussions going:
— Types of tent (Ridge, Bell, Marquee, Frame, Dome)
— Items required to put a tent up Tent, Poles, Pegs, Guys, Mallets)
— Where to put up your tent (flat grass, away from trees, away from housing, away from roads, firm ground, not in a valley, good distance from other tents)

• Safety I Risks
It is important the young people understand the key safety points when pitching a tent. Ask them if they can think of any common sense precautions. These should include:
— Trip hazards (e.g. guy ropes)
— Access between tents
— Away from overhead power cables or dangers
— Away from water
— Weather
— Identify any nearby hazards
— Suitable ground

• Care of Equipment
Young people should understand the importance of ensuring all items of equipment are well looked after. They should be taught care of the canvas, including not walking on canvas and appropriate cleaning before packing away. Canvas should always be packed away dry (left out to thy if wet / damp) and folded appropriately to fit into its bag. Pegs should be cleaned once removed from the ground. Groundsheets should be brushed on both sides before being folded away. This is to prevent mildew, staining and rotting of the canvas and equipment It is also important to ensure all parts including guys and canvas are packed away complete (without missing or damaged parts).

Tips / Advice:
Make the activity as interactive as possible, drawing on the young people’s previous experiences.

Activity 2 - Pitching / Striking a Tent

Aim: To give the young people an opportunity to practise pitching and striking a tent.

• The young people in groups should practise the pitching and striking of a ridge/bell tent (or other type of tent) to demonstrate their ability. It is suggested that 4 young people work in a group, and be supervised by an appropriate leader. Before the young people carry out this practical element you should demonstrate the pitching and striking with a group of experienced young people assisting.

• The groups should then follow on from the demonstration by pitching and striking a tent. The supervising leader should make a note of any mistakes, and give instruction or hints where necessary to ensure safety of the young people and care of the canvas/equipment. The group should be told they are responsible for ensuring that all equipment and the site where the tent is pitched is packed up and left in the same condition as they found it.

• Before starting the pitching and striking practical element it is important that the group practise inserting and removing pegs (this should be done at an angle of 45 degrees), including instruction on the safe use of the mallet (to ensure safety of themselves and others around them).

• Below are instructions on the pitching and striking of a Ridge Tent and Bell Tent. These are the most common tents that will be used for static camps. Some groups may use dome or frame tents (instructions for dome tents can be found under the Expedition topic, and instructions for frame tents in The Camping in The Boys Brigade’ booklet available from BB Supplies). it may be that The young people will only practise the pitching/striking of one type of tent, or may practise different types.

Pitching / Striking a Ridge Tent

• Pitching a Ridge Tent
1. Lay the ridge pole on the ground in the required position; drive in a marker peg at each end.
2. Spread the tent on the ground with the base alongside the marker pegs.
3. Fit the ridge and upright poles together and into the tent; ensure that the spikes on the uprights go through the holes provided in the tent and that the bases of the uprights are against the marker pegs.
4. For double main guys, drive two pegs at both ends of the tent, each at an angle of 45° from the centre line and about three paces out from the marker pegs.
5. For single main guys, drive one peg at each end of the tent, on the centre line, and about three paces out from the marker pegs.
6. Attach the main guys to The spikes on the uprights and fit the wooden knobs over the spikes.
7. Attach the main guys to the pegs; raise the tent and uprights evenly into The wind, tighten the guys until the uprights are vertical in relation to the ground.
8. Lace the doors fully.
9. Peg out the guys at each corner of the tent, usually diagonally, but sometimes at 90 degrees to the centre line.
10. Peg out the remaining guys in line with the seams; avoid bulging of the side walls.
11. Drive in pegs for the brailing ropes — corners and ends first, then the sides.
12. Attach the brailing ropes; remove the marker pegs.

• Striking a Ridge Tent
1. Remove all guy and brailing ropes from the pegs, except for The main guys.
2. Roll up all free guys and secure them with a half-hitch.
3. Remove The main guys on one side and lower the tent evenly into the wind.
4. Remove the remaining guys from Their pegs and draw the tent away from the area, taking care to avoid damage to the tent from pegs remaining in the ground.
5. Withdraw the poles from the tent; remove the main guys and knobs; remove all pegs from the ground.

• Packing a Ridge Tent . .
1. Spread the tent evenly on the ground; do not fold the wall inside the roof; have the eaves fiat against the wall; leave the door(s) open; roll all the guys and secure them with a half-hitch.
2. Fold the doors/ends over the tent, leaving the tent in the shape of a rectangle.
3. Fold the walls up over the roof to the half-way mark.
4. Fold the ridge down over The walls to the eaves.
5. Roll up the tent from one end and put it in the tent bag.
6. Clean the pegs and put Them in the peg bag; put the peg bag and The mallet in the tent bag and secure it.
7. Dismantle The jointed poles and tie them together.

• Note that if the guys are separate from the tent, they may be either kept in a separate bag inside the tent bag, or placed on the tent before rolling and so rolled up inside it. To secure separate guys, pull the runner down to the end of the rope, double the rope and continue doubling until the rope is 15 to 20cm long; then, holding the multiple thicknesses of rope firmly, make an overhand knot by forming a loop near one end and putting the other end through the loop, pulling firmly.

• Remind young people about unpacking and drying/cleaning/repairing any tents that require such treatment before final storage.

Pitching / Striking a Bell Tent

• Pitching a Bell Tent
1. Drive in a peg to mark the desired centre of the tent.
2. Drive in pegs at the front, rear and both sides, each 3 metres (10ft) away from the centre; imaginary lines from each of the four pegs must form right angles at the centre.
3. Unfold the tent behind the rear peg; unroll all guy ropes and open the door fully.
4. Draw The tent forward and attach the guy on each side of the door (ignoring the guys on the door flaps) to the front peg.
5. Two persons count simultaneously around the guys to the rear of the tent until the centre back guy is found; attach it to the rear peg. (Occasionally, two guys will be found equidistant from the front, in which case both should be attached.)
6. By similar counting, find the centre guy on each side and attach it to the appropriate peg.
7. Through The doorway, insert the top of the pole into the ring in the cap or the tent
8. Raise the pole by sliding the base along the ground to the centre peg; tighten the main guys, adjusting them until the pole is vertical in relation to the ground.
9. Close the door and lace it up fully.
10. Drive in the remaining pegs in line with the seams. (If there are two main guys on the rear peg attend to these first.) Attach and tighten all guys.
11. Drive in brailing pegs under the junction of the wall and the eaves and in line with the seams; attach the brailing ropes to the pegs.

Do not open the door until all the guys, including the two main front guys, have been correctly located and pegged. Remove the centre peg.

• Striking a Bell tent
1. Remove all guy and brailing ropes from the pegs, except for the five main guys (two front, one rear and one each side).
2. Roll up all free guys and secure them with a half-hitch.
3. Slacken the main guys slightly; lift the pole and run out through the door with it, base first. (Safety— watch for clear route.)
4. As an alternative to 3, remove the leeward main guy and lower the tent against the wind.
5. Remove the main guys from the pegs and draw the tent away from the area, taking care to avoid damage to the tent from pegs remaining in the ground.
6. Remove all pegs and clean the earth from them, stacking Them to dry if necessary.

• Packing a Bell Tent
1. Spread the tent evenly on the ground in a triangular shape; do not fold the wall inside the roof but have the eaves flat against the wall; fold the sod-cloth flat inside the wall.
2. Lace up the door; roll up all guys and secure them with a half-hitch.
3. Fold each side in to the centre, then repeat; the breadth of the tent should then equal the depth of The tent bag.
4. Fold away the cap of the tent about half-way towards the base.
5. Roll the tent firmly from the top to the base, avoiding creases; put the tent in the bag.
6. Check that the pegs are clean and dry and put them in the peg bag.
7. Put the peg bag and mallet in the tent bag and tie the neck of the latter. Separate jointed poles and tie them together.

Tips / Advice:
• Remind young people about tent peg angles.
• Remind young people about unpacking and drying/cleaning/repairing any tents that require such treatment before final storage.

Safety Issues / Risk Assessment:
• Use of mallets.
• Do not allow young people to attempt physical tasks beyond their strength.
• When camping overnight Brigade Regulations MUST be followed, please check the Safety Handbook for more details.

Activity 3 - Tent Care / Maintenance

Aim: To give the young people an understanding and practical experience of maintaining tents.

1. Invite young people to suggest reasons why they must give a tent care and attention. See if they suggest reasons such as:
— The tent will be their home for a period of time
— The tent will have to give them protection against the weather
— Damage will make it less pleasant to sleep in and impair its usefulness
— Even small hales may tear in the wind, thus shortening the life of the tent

2. If there is no flysheet, point out the need to avoid touching the inside of the tent when it is raining. Demonstrate how touching the inside walls when wet will result in the tent letting in drips of water. (If doing this during a static camp, use a spare tent rather than one being used for accommodation).

3. Pegs and guys should be checked regularly to ensure that pegs are firmly in the ground and have not pulled out and that guys are done up appropriately. Pegs should be an angle of 45 degrees, and the notch should not be embedded in the ground.

Ask the young people what is likely to happen if The peg is:- 0
— more vertical — the guy rope will tend to ride up The peg
— less vertical — reduces the depth to which a peg penetrates, and therefore lessens the ‘holding’ properties of the ground ‘

To exaggerate these two conditions sometimes makes the point more clearly.

4. Discuss that good ventilation of a tent is essential to avoid danger from fumes and to reduce condensation. On dry days, the walls of the tent should be brailled (rolled up) or lifted in some way. Also mention that some aerosol propellants can affect the water integrity of some modern tents.

5. Living in close proximity with each other in a tent requires everyone to be clean personally and to ensure all cooking and eating utensils are cleaned after use and that rubbish is disposed of properly and promptly.

6. Discourage the young people from leaning on the tent, pulling the guy ropes or hammering tent pegs a too far into the ground.

7. Explain the need to wash down the outside surface of the tent if there is no rain for a couple of days so as to clean off bird droppings as they will rot holes in the tent.

Tips / Advice:
Make The activity as interactive as possible, drawing on the young people’s previous experiences.

A booklet tamping in The Boys’ Brigade” is available from BB Supplies, and is a detailed resource for leaders.

For full details see the BB Company Section Discoverer Pro Pack, Recreation Outdoor and adventure B1


  • company
  • discoverer
  • Outdoor and Adventure
  • recreation
  • tent craft

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